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ATSB yet to uncover cause of fatal Cessna 150 aerobatic plane crash

written by Hannah Dowling | September 3, 2021

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is yet to identify what caused a Cessna 150 light plane to crash into trees during aerobatic flight training, killing two people, in June.

The aircraft departed from Sunshine Coast Airport on the morning of 23 June 2021 with an instructor and student aerobatic pilot on board. The pair were conducting spin recovery training near Peachester when the plane descended rapidly, and impacted a dense stand of trees.

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According to the ATSB’s preliminary report into the incident, the aircraft was fully intact prior to the collision, and there was no evidence of pre-impact defects with the aircraft’s flight controls, aircraft structure, or engine.

According to air traffic control radar data, the aircraft reached Peachester around 20 minutes after take-off, and began aerobatic training sequences.

In the final 90 seconds before the crash, the aircraft turned left and decelerated while maintaining an altitude of 6,000 feet, the report said.

The aircraft then began to descend rapidly, before hitting the trees. The aircraft was destroyed and both occupants were fatally injured.

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The aircraft was reported missing by a member of the Sunshine Coast Aero Club around four hours after the aircraft departed, and the wreckage was found several hours after.

According to the report, the wreckage trail indicated the final flight path was a descent of about 13 degrees.

The throttle setting was at idle, and propeller rotational damage signatures were minimal, indicating a low power setting at the time of impact.

“The disruption to the aircraft and foliage, coupled with the length of the wreckage trail, indicated that the aircraft had significant forward speed at impact,” ATSB director transport safety Dr Mike Walker said.

The flaps were also in the retracted position at the time of impact, the ATSB noted.

The investigation to determine the cause of the crash will continue.

“As the investigation continues, the ATSB will interview parties involved with the aircraft’s operation, further analyse the radar data, examine the pilots’ qualifications, experience and medical histories, and review aircraft records,” he said. “Spin training requirements and practices will also be assessed.”

A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation.

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